GROVE CITY – The Grove City Area United Way held its annual awards luncheon March 28 in the Carnegie Alumni Center at Grove City College.

The event marks the completion of the agency’s 2018-19 fundraising campaign. It also celebrates those who donated, the agencies that use the funds, and an individual and organization who are dedicated to improving the lives of those in need.

The United Way raised $211,559.79, exceeding its campaign goal of $200,000. That money supports agencies that depend on that funding to continue their work in the community, said Amy Foley, the United Way’s executive director.

“They are doing amazing things, hard things, and are so passionate about it,” she said in a news release.

Each agency that receives United Way funding was represented and recognized at the luncheon: Mercer County AWARE, Children’s Aid Society of Mercer County, Christian Assistance Network, Community Counseling Center of Mercer County, Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania, Grove City Community Food Pantry, Grove City Community Library, Grove City Education Center for Adults, Grove City YMCA, Meals on Wheels, and the Salvation Army, Grove City Service Unit.

Fern Torok, who recently retired from the Community Counseling Center, where she spent 23 years as the outreach coordinator, received the United Way’s Community Service Award.

Torok has been a devoted advocate for mental health awareness and treatment, especially the Stamp out Stigma campaign, which she promoted by way of nearly 100 speaking engagements across the county.

She is passionate about the relationship between the Grove City Area United Way and Community Counseling Center, said United Way President Roger Flynn.

Torok cited a recent experience where she purchased a famous-label fitness outfit at a local thrift shop and gave it to a gentleman who was admiring it.

“It’s all about people helping people. That’s what makes the world a better place,” she said.

This year’s Community Impact Award recipient was All Good Things Thrift Shoppe, which was presented by United Way Vice President Larry Connelly. The nonprofit founded by the late Debbie Little Kochems, and it began with her vision to give all proceeds after expenses back to the community.

In the five years since the store opened, Kochems’ dream was realized by helping area agencies, groups and causes to the tune of nearly $350,000.

Thrift store volunteers Connie DiCola and Jerry Mahaffey accepted the award, each paying tribute to their beloved founder and vowing to carry on her legacy through continued operation of the shop.

Each award recipient was recognized with a proclamation from Grove City Borough Mayor Randy Riddle, citations from state Rep. Tedd Nesbit, and Sen. Michele Brooks presented by Melinda Gosser, as well as letters from both Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Governor John Fetterman.

“It’s been a great day and a great year. We are proud to serve our community and work every day to strengthen the health of Grove City to make it an even better place for people to call home,” Foley said.

Recommended for you